Yonge Street Linear Parks Master Plan
City of Toronto & Cresford Developments
Janet Rosenberg & Studio (Landscape Architect)
Photography Credit: Renderings by JRS with the Flat Side of Design
Janet Rosenberg & Studio was pleased to lead a unique initiative to strengthen the public realm network and character of three significant green open spaces in the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood in downtown Toronto. By undertaking this holistic master planning exercise, we were able to establish a cohesive vision for the linear park system that incorporated materiality, programming, safety, accessibility and artful features, in direct response to the needs of the community and stakeholders.
James Canning Gardens, Norman Jewison Park, and George Hislop Park form a linear park system that runs from Charles Street in the north to Dundonald Street in the south. The three parks that make up the linear park system offer a secondary pedestrian circulation route just east of Yonge Street, sitting directly over the TTC Yonge Subway line.
A wealth of information was gathered at a series of lively public meetings and through further meetings with stakeholders including the Church-Wellesley Neighbourbood Association (CWNA), representatives of The Sanctuary, the Downtown Yonge BIA, the local Toronto Police Service Ambassador, City of Toronto Planning, City of Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation (including Operations), the local City Councillor, and neighbouring property owners. Consultation clearly communicated the community’s desire for increased safety, the addition of new amenities, and the protection of the existing mature trees.
The master plan addresses issues of connectivity, programming, safety, and system legibility. It recognizes the unique heritage of the area and identifies opportunities for rejuvenation through the introduction of new amenities and programming, flexible seating, gateway elements, planting, traffic calming bump-outs, and opportunities for public art.
Upon completion of the Master Plan, JRS advanced the rejuvenation of James Canning Gardens from Schematic Design through Contract Administration. Completed in 2021, the park includes new play structures, including accessible play features, custom Corten steel archways, new plantings, and a range of flexible seating. The mature honey locust trees on site were preserved through a process involving intensive arboriculture investigations using air spades and low-pressure VAC work to expose, locate, and map the significant roots. Roots were then protected by custom-designed footings that bridged significant root zones.